Conductor & Musical Director

Conducting was my major study at university: at that time musicology was about the same as 'theory' for me. But they wanted me to conduct Beethoven and Haydn, and I thought there were already quite a number of people who did that pretty well, whereas what I was best at was something rather different - putting together music and theatre, dance, poetry, and perhaps film... but they thought I danced too much...

When I lived in Norway between 1989 and 1991, I was conductor for a great variety of bands and orchestras in both schools and the adult community. One favourite memory is still of the band which met in the dining room of the fish-canning factory in Moltustranda, for whom I did lots of special arrangements, everything from to the Mozart theme from Elvira Madigan; long after leaving the area and moving to Sweden, I still find there is no mackerel-in-tomato-sauce to match their 'Mette' brand, and their cod roe is out of this world!

At Kapellsbergs college of music in Härnösand, northern Sweden, I had the job no-one else wanted, the choir which was compulsory for all 50 students - a wonderful opportunity to present a great variety of repertoire, combining voices and instruments - one time it was a chorus from Mozart's Il Seraglio complete with its colourful Turkish band, another time a traditional Alpine yodel song with clarinet and accordion, and yet again a Scot Joplin ragtime with no instruments at all, but voices in eight parts, with the top sopranos finishing right up in the heavens on a top Bb ... It was all very creative and innovative, and over the year just about everyone got to do one solo or another, even the cook commented on how well in-tune the choir were singing these days. Yet somehow, the students never got over their initial hate of the whole thing because it was compulsory, they wanted to excel at the traditional rather than capturing attention with the innovative, they saw me as an incurable renaissance freak and did all they could to get rid of me. I didn't resist, of course, though the roses I got when I did leave left me wondering about the ways of the world ...

I received quite the opposite reaction from most of the students at the Music Conservatory in Piteå (even farther north), where I had the job of dealing with 17th and 18thC. music history in a month. I chose to leave the students to do their own reading about the background, and focused instead on a practical project, to mount a baroque ballad opera, Polly, the almost unknown part 2 of the famous Beggar's Opera.


That led to Karin and me being asked to direct another version of the same piece with a choir of 15 singers in Umeå:

For a short extract click here -

as a Flash movie - 84 Kb

as a QuickTime movie - 1.2 Mb


I did an Estonian version with students and others in Tartu a few years later - a very exciting process, where we started of with the spoken text in English, which the students gradually converted to Estonian as time went by, just by expressing themselves as it felt right. I believe my own lines - I had three of them in the rôle of the poet in the introduction - where the only ones which were ever written down.

For a short extract click here -

as a Flash movie - 110 Kb

as a QuickTime movie - 2 Mb

A major part of the profile is that everyone is welcome to take part on their own terms, so we get a glorious mixture with everything from professional early musicians to people who have never sung or stood on stage in their lives ...


The last big project I got involved with before turning my energies to computer-based multimedia was a completely new staging of the first opera in history, the Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo (1600) of Emilio de' Cavalieri - a colossal amount of work for an awful lot of people, opportunities for minimalist acting, singing solo and in ensemble, and a delightful band with flutes, recorders, violins, trombones, harpsichord, virginal and everything needed for an early 17thC party ..

Anima & corpo - duet, sinfonia & chorus -

Flash 'movie' stereo - 250 Kb
Flash 'movie' mono - 160 Kb
QuickTime movie - 3 Mb

I suppose it doesn't need saying, but my style as conductor is not to stand in front with a baton, but to lead from within the group, either as singer or as harpsichord player, as a baroque maestro di capella did.

An impression of David's conducting style -

Flash 'movie' - 70 Kb
QuickTime movie - 1.2 Mb

And my style as musical leader is of course to start with the people who want to do something - whether or not they've done it before, or believe they can - and create the music around that.

Camerata Tartuensis

Early Music in Tartu